Sunday, August 05, 2007

What Doesn't Kill Us . . .

often enough makes us wish we were dead.

Can you tell from that opening that I have just returned from another weekend of grueling philosofrication? This one was worse than the last one, because this is the professor who all along says that if I am having trouble "doing philosophy" it is because I am not trying hard enough.

What was worse, he used my paper as an example of how not to write an essay answering the question (of course anonymously, but I knew it was my paper the minute he began to read). When he handed back the assignments he said that if the paper didn't have a grade it meant that the person might want to rethink and rewrite the essays before he actually recorded the grades. Of course mine was one that didn't have a grade. It also didn't have any indication as to what he did or didn't like in the three essays so I immediately assumed (wouldn't you?) that he meant I had to rewrite all three answers.

When I finally was able to speak with him in private he looked at my essays and told me that it was only the first essay that was the difficulty and the other two were fine. If I left the first one the way it was my grade would be a C. If I corrected the flaws in the first one my grade could be raised to an A.

He then proceeded to ask me what my motivation was for getting a Masters Degree, and did I want to continue on to do more post graduate work, because if I did then a C in his class was disastrous.

I would dispute that getting a C in one class over the course of 48 credit hours would be enough to keep me out of every Doctoral program in the entire country, and asked him if the work I had done was at least passing. He said that yes it was, but he refrained from giving me a grade of C because he didn't want to "hurt my feelings" . I was stunned, did he think the way he handled this was more pastoral?

Anyway, the Mass today was about letting go of all irrelevant stuff, and seeking the higher goal of peace and joy that comes from above. I know that after this course is over my life will not be centered on how much Platonic and Aristotelian Philosophy I actually learned in gradual school. In fact this little episode will be a mere footnote to my experience.

The final assignment is to write a two page essay stating what in the course was the most important thing I learned and why it would be important for someone (not me personally but someone studying philosophy) to learn this. This I can do because there was a section on the first weekend that I actually understood and could relate to and thought would be of benefit to anyone studying theology.

On the way home the woman I carpool with helped me to understand the question for which I wrote the essay wrong in a way that actually didn't make my head explode (which was a good thing because she has a very nice car). I now think I have a framework for writing the answer to that question in a form that will satisfy his need to ask it.

So, all in all, although it was a very trying weekend I did survive. I cried, I laughed, I ate chocolate and tried to keep my mouth shut, when I could. I might even actually get a decent grade in this class after all.

One more philosophy class to go. I can almost smell freedom.


1 comment:

The Ironic Catholic said...


Just remember that stupid statement "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger" is attributed to Nietzsche, a philosopher. And a somewhat whacked unhappy one at that.

The professor ddi not handle that well. His idiocy is HIS problem. Try (I know, but try!) to not let his stupidity effect you.

I agree that one C on one paper, even one course, would not be the thing that would keep you from a PhD...esp. if you weren't doing one in Philosophy! But it's true that you want to keep your grades as high as possible.

Did you have a good sense of what he wanted after your conversation?

Peace. God is bigger than this twit.